It would not be wrong to say that we, as Indians, are obsessed with our Bollywood celebrities. And in the last decade, the paparazzi culture has taken that obsession to higher levels. The audience wants to see everything, from celeb birthday parties, film and song launches to on-the-sets shoots. So, the Bollywood photographers too are catering to their needs by providing them content on-the-go.
In fact, the famous paparazzo accounts have a following of millions on social media. Manav Manglani, who has been an ace photographer in Bollywood for over two decades, is one such name in the industry and his followers wait with bated breaths to see exclusive pictures and videos of celebrities. In an exclusive interview with Outlook, he talks about what has led to the rise of paparazzi culture in Bollywood, the PR machinery of celebs, and the most liked celebs by photographers on the block. Excerpts from the interview:
Why do you think the paparazzi culture has gained momentum in the past few years?
It’s all because of the digital push that India has got. Everyone is now on their phones most of the time. They are consuming a lot of content, and sports and Bollywood are among the favourites for Indians. That’s one of the major reasons. On social media, there are breaking stories, people get to see the stars as it happens, what they are doing – not only in their glamorous roles – but also their daily activities, like gym, meetings or airport looks. They are getting content as it is happening.
Earlier, the fans had to wait for one or two days. The photos were clicked, then sent for print and they used to come in newspapers the next day. The audience used to get all the dope from TV or print, now it is on mobile. Plus, it is also beneficial for us because we are also getting good followers and traction is high, so it’s come up as a career also for photographers, who like stalking celebs, if you would say so.
Do celebs managers and PRs give information about the star’s location to have the paparazzi present there to click them?
No, that used to happen earlier. It is a two-way street. We need them for the pictures, and they need us for promotional activities considering the amount of followers now paparazzi accounts have. They also get a reach, so they end up telling where they are. But that’s only 20 percent of the time. 80 percent is all about doing the research and finding out what is happening around the city, which celeb is shooting where and if a film is coming up, track birthdays, and if some celeb has an outdoor schedule planned, so we might spot them at the airport and so on.
Certain celebs, like senior actor Jaya Bachchan, have often slammed the paparazzi culture. How do you and your team take it?
That keeps happening often, but we tend to laugh it off. It is only with certain celebs, not with all of them. We respect Jaya Bachchan ma'am. She might not be too active on social media, and she might still believe in the print culture. Probably, that’s what makes her angry and we end up avoiding such situations.
More than the paps, it is the Youtubers who have made it difficult for celebs at times. They have a channel, and they want content recorded for that despite not being related to any media organisation. You cannot stop them because they all have phones now. They are invited to events as well. But yes, they are growing in number and celebs also at times get heckled to see so many people hoarding them. So, that’s the negative part of the current paparazzi culture, I would say. They want to make content even if the celeb is getting troubled amidst all that.
Who are the favourites among the photographers since they are around celebs closely?
Most of them are really friendly with all the photographers. Ranveer Singh, Varun Dhawan, Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Ananya Pandey, Alia Bhatt are all very friendly. That’s what I love about them. It is a 12-14 hour shift for the photographers. They care about us, ask us what’s happening, ask us to eat or drink water.
Manav Manglani boasts of 2 million followers on Instagram.